Tuesday, December 29, 2009

goodbye Caesar salads

I know that pregnant women are supposed to be careful regarding what they eat and drink, which I am. However, never in my wildest dreams, okay nightmare, did I think it would be difficult to find “safe” Parmesan cheese in Dublin.

Last week we purchased the same brand of fresh, Parmesan shavings that we’ve bought for over a year, only to bring it home and discover that it’s made with unpasteurized milk.

What??? This is not fancy, European cheese. This is store brand, regular, old Parmesan. Unfortunately all of the other Parmesan in the store is also made with unpasteurized milk. One of my first outings will be to search for “safe” cheese. Maybe I’ll be able to find it in a specialty cheese shop.


cats in December

Santa brought the cats two bags of treats from the U.S.

nap time

Guinness' favorite place to be. Mmm warm.

There are two scratchers in front of the fire, the coveted place to be. Bella is a bit selfish and usually tries to stretch herself as long as possible, so there is no room for Guinness.

Notice Bella's stretched out paw? Poor Guinness.

I moved Bella, Guinness rearranged himself and stretched out, revenge.

sharing the fire

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I didn't do Christmas cards this year, so this will have to do.

Merry Christmas
Wishing you a Christmas filled with peace and love!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I was talking to my mom yesterday and she mentioned the lack of posts on the blog recently. I told her that it had been fairly boring around here (which I am thankful for), and that there wasn’t much to blog about. She asked if there was perhaps another reason, cough, cough, the new toy.

Yes, about three weeks ago my husband bought me a new toy, Slingbox. It’s a fabulous device that allows the owner to watch television from the U.S. regardless of where in the world they are living. I had wanted one for a long time, and he finally ordered it as one of my Christmas gifts. My mom was involved because you have to have someone in the U.S. who is willing to hook the device to their tv and computer, and who hopefully doesn’t use their tv very often. When I was put on couch/ bed rest, my mom had the brilliant idea that my husband should give me the Slingbox gift early, so I would stay still. It’s not that I’m a huge tv watcher, but it’s nice to see programs from home once in a while. Oh, and did I mention that my mom has a fabulous cable package and I’m almost guaranteed to find a Law & Order episode on at least one channel. Hooray. Though I will say that watching U.S. advertisements is causing me to have HUGE retail envy.

So there you have it, I’ve been laying around, watching tv, and eating bon-bons following the doctor's orders.

If you live out of your home country, I highly recommend buying a Slingbox. While you’re at it, pick up a Magic Jack too.


Okay, I finally did it. For the first time since finding out that I am pregnant, I’ve set out more than one syringe; you know, because I might actually still be pregnant when it’s time for the next injection. This probably seems like the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard, but around here, it is huge. This is the first sign of hope that this pregnancy might last, that this is really happening.

If this keeps up, I might actually start reading a pregnancy book and order maternity clothes in the next week or so.


Monday, December 21, 2009

more intralipids

Sorry for the long silence; there really hasn’t been much happening. Today I had another intralipid appointment. I brought in treats for both the front office staff and medical staff. They seemed to appreciate some sweets for the holidays.

During the infusion, the nurse asked if she could bring another patient back, which I was fine with. I wasn’t sure what to expect because in the waiting area, nobody talks to each other. I was envisioning being trapped in uncomfortable silence for over an hour. The other patient walked in, I introduced myself, and the conversation started. Of course it probably helped that we were sitting a foot away from each other, our infusion bags hanging from the same IV pole. Anyway, she was just lovely.

We had a nice chat about infertility, IVF, intralipids, and area hospitals. It just amazes me that regardless of where in the world you are from, currently live, etc, infertility knows no bounds, the feelings are the same, and the bond between infertile women forms quickly. Within minutes we were laughing about the “regular” people who complain about getting flu shots, snickering about people who “just have sex”, and rolling our eyes about the dumb things people say. We exchanged medical histories, diagnosis, and hope for each other. Where else is it completely appropriate (almost expected) for strangers to share the most intimate aspects of their lives than at the fertility clinic. LOL. Overall a good appointment and my new friend helped the time pass quickly. My next intralipid appointment and ultrasound are scheduled for January 4.

PS- I finally remembered to ask the nurse about the intralipid dose. It’s 4ml of 20%, mixed with saline.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

scheduling an OB, start early!

When I was five weeks pregnant, there were several people who asked if I’d chosen an OB yet, to which I laughed. It seemed WAY too early for that, plus, you’re talking to the person who won’t even set out an extra syringe for heparin in fear that she won’t need it in 12 hours. So yeah, no OB.

At six weeks, people asked again, and even started to sound nervous that I hadn’t selected an OB yet. Again, way too early, in my opinion. Remember, I was cramping, spotting, and just knew this was going to end. At six and half weeks, the health unit director sent a list of OBs home with my husband for me to look through. She was starting to get concerned about my lack of OB appointment, and told me as much during several phone calls to check on me.

By seven weeks, the nurses at the fertility clinic had joined in, stressing the importance of choosing an OB, ASAP. Apparently there is a baby boom in Ireland, and again, I was told that the “good” OBs fill up their spaces when women are around five weeks pregnant (they take limited numbers of patients per month). Ridiculous, I thought. Again, I didn’t expect this to last.

Seven weeks came and went and I dutifully looked through the list of OBs, comparing qualifications, education, location, etc. I chose four and went to the health unit (yes, a break from couch rest). I thought that having the health unit call on my behalf might give me a better chance since I was apparently so late into the process.

OB choice #1, hospital choice #1: receptionist was out of town, but we were told he was not taking new patients
OB choice #2, hospital choice #1: not taking new patients
OB choice #3, hospital choice #2: not taking new patients
Oh ****
OB choice #4, hospital choice #2: after some pleading by our health unit director, agreed to take me, even though, you guessed it, he was not taking new patients. Phew, appointment made.

After some additional googling and conversations with more nurses at the fertility clinic when I was there on Monday (yes, now into the eighth week), I decided I wasn’t really comfortable with choice #4, and they recommended I try again for choice #1 or go with another OB (not listed as practicing in Dublin on my list, but apparently is).

On Monday afternoon I called OB choice #1 and had a nice conversation with his receptionist. Unfortunately he will be on holiday for the entire month of July (when I’m due), and therefore can’t take me. However he had two names of other OBs that he thinks highly of (one being the OB I had just been told about earlier that day at the clinic).

And so, I called the new OB, who after being researched, googled, and otherwise cyber stalked, had become my new top choice, AND he delivers at hospital choice #1. His receptionist was very nice, though I got the impression that a lot of people must play the “I’m high risk” card to get into him, so she wanted detailed information of what makes me “high risk” and I had to promise to have the fertility clinic send a detailed referral letter, which they had already offered to do. After listening to just half of what makes me high risk, the receptionist said, “Oh my goodness, you’ve really been through the mill.” She said the doctor was booked, but he would likely find my case “interesting” and “challenging”, so she was going to speak with him and call me back.

An hour later, she called and said that although she was going to have to “redo his schedule”, that he wanted to take me. SIGH OF RELIEF. Anyway, my first OB appointment is in January. Until then I will be followed at the fertility clinic.

Moral of the story: if you plan to get pregnant in Dublin, book your first OB appointment as soon as you get a positive home pregnancy test if you want a particular doctor. Since we aren’t Irish (no local insurance), I’m high risk, and need more care than most, I am going “private” which means the cost of maternity care is about 2/3 the cost of an IVF cycle. GULP. For those using the regular system or going “semi private”, you might want to book your first OB appointment six months before you think you’ll get pregnant. I wish I were joking.

Monday, December 14, 2009

8 week 4 day ultrasound

First, the big news, the baby still has a heartbeat!

We had one of our favorite nurses today, the nurse we were introduced to at our first IVF consult at this clinic. It was wonderful to see her again and she seemed thrilled to be doing today’s scan. The baby is measuring at 18.7mm (over double in size from 11 days ago) and at 8 weeks 3 days, so just a day off, versus two days off at the last scan (not a big deal).

Today we were in a different ultrasound room and I don’t think the machine is as new/ good as the one in the other room, so the picture isn’t very clear.

The baby was curled up, sleeping. The nurse was poking at it repeatedly and it still wouldn’t wake up. She said it was the most stubborn she had ever seen; also said it was the most laid back as they usually move more when they are poked at. She referred to herself as Aunt ‘her first name’. Awww, so cute! Then even tried to explain to the baby that it owed her some movement after all the hassle she went through trying to order my meds. We all had a good laugh. After 15 minutes of poking and jabbing, we finally saw some movement. The nurse even pointed out a little hand. Amazing!

I have another intralipid infusion on Monday and I’m still on pelvic rest, supposed to keep my feet up, relax, etc.. I got refills on some meds, a hug and pat on the belly from my favorite nurse, and off we went.

Now I’m trying to book an appointment with an ob (more about that headache tomorrow).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

so sick

Where have I been for the past several days? Mostly on the bathroom floor. I had a really bad reaction to the PIO injections combined with the Crinone. I won’t go into details, other than to say, I was really sick and in a lot of pain from Tuesday evening through Friday afternoon.

By Wednesday afternoon it was clear that I needed help/ medicine, but I didn’t want to bother the RE (yeah, I know, dumb), so I went to the pharmacy. They didn’t come close to having what I wanted, but I was ready to settle for something else and made the mistake of asking the pharmacist what ingredients it contained, mumbled something about being eight weeks pregnant, only to have the item grabbed away. NOT HAPPY. So yes, they actually refused to sell it to me. Of course that is the only pharmacy remotely near the house, so home I went, defeated, still sick, and still in pain. I was in tears, wishing that Target, CVS, or Walgreens were an option.

By Wednesday night, I was seriously considering the hospital (yes, it was that bad). Of course that leads to which hospital. The private hospital that I would prefer is far from the house, ER closes at 6pm (yes, you read that correctly), and doesn’t take pregnant patients. I wasn’t sure if the maternity hospital would take me (clearly not thinking straight by this point). The urgent care type place doesn’t take pregnant patients and likely would have just told me to go to the hospital, which leads to the other choice, the public hospital. While it’s close, and I’m sure the care is fine, it’s still public, crowded, and likely overflowing with flu patients, which I don’t need to be around due to being immuno-suppressed. The other issue is that due to overcrowding, if they decide to admit a patient, the patient often lies on a trolley (hospital bed) for up to three days in the hallway of the ER. I have seen it with my own eyes while on hospital tours, and just the thought was enough to keep me home.

On Thursday I still hadn’t called the doctor, (again, stupid, I know). Basically after several days of drugging myself with “safe” medicine I had around the house, some “safe” home remedies, a lot of tears, rest, some screaming, etc.. I appeared to be on the mend. By Friday afternoon I even managed to eat some solid food.

As of today, it seems that I’ve recovered, and lesson learned, just call the doctor next time. Oh, and place a HUGE order to drugstore.com, just to have certain items on hand.

Regarding the pregnancy, I’m now 8 weeks, 2 days and I thought the PIO injections were helping with the bleeding and cramping, but I think I was just in too much pain and too sick to be paying attention this week. Tonight the cramping is horrible. I have another ultrasound on Monday, holding my breath that there is still a heartbeat.

Tomorrow will be spent catching up on emails, message boards, and blogs. I’ve missed all of you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

intralipids at the fertility clinic

As I mentioned before, the fertility clinic is now offering intralipids. YES! The clinic is a lot closer to us than the other clinic they contracted with for intralipids (literally all the way across Dublin), not fun with the traffic nightmare here. So yesterday I had my first dose of intralipids at the fertility clinic (fourth dose of intralipids total). I had two of my favorite nurses and one of my favorite REs hooking me up, checking on me from time to time, and doing vitals. Everything went very well and I was able to get new meds and supplies for the progesterone in oil injections that I started last night. I was hoping that I could drop the Crinone, no luck; now I’m on both.

In other news, I had some leftover meds from the FET in Minsk that I wanted to donate before they expired. I decided to take them to the clinic yesterday and see if they could be given to another patient. I wasn’t sure if the clinic would accept them or not, because even though they are within date and they were manufactured in the UK, they are all labeled in Russian. I was thrilled when the RE told me that they could definitely use them. YAY!

On to the PIO injections, so far they aren’t too bad, though I’ve only had two. The actual injection is a bit more noticeable than the heparin and stims because the needle is bigger and solution is thicker, but not awful. The only bothersome aspects are the bleeding after the injection and I’ve noticed that after just two injections, sitting down is a bit uncomfortable, which I can only imagine will get worse. Overall not as bad as I expected and thank you to everyone who left helpful hints in the other post. I really appreciate all of the tips and tricks for the PIO injections!

update on Guinness

Yesterday morning he must have known that he had to return to the vet to give a urine sample. My poor Guinness sat in the master bathroom and cried, and that was before he knew that I’d brought the carrier in from the garage. I’d slept with an old pillowcase the night before so he’d have something with my scent on it, so I put that into the carrier and then we put Guinness in.

Fortunately the clinic is only about five minutes away, but it was five minutes of crying that kitty cry of “mommy, why are you doing this to me, where are you taking me” cry. Broke my heart. We dropped him off and the vet assistant promised to keep the pillowcase in the kennel with him.

I waited several hours and called for an update. He still hadn’t urinated, though I had a long conversation with the vet. I told her that I really didn’t think that he was diabetic (not symptomatic and too young) and that I also thought the low phosphate level in his blood was secondary to the vomiting on Thursday night. She completely agreed with me and said that at this stage they are just trying to rule things out. Her only suggestion was to eliminate his evening wet food and keep him on dry only, so that’s what we’ll do.

She called about an hour later to let me know that she’d been able to get a sterile urine sample from Guinness. It showed that he’s a healthy, young boy. So yeah, basically still no answers. We drove to the clinic to pick him up and speak with her in more detail. I just can’t say enough wonderful things about her, extremely pleased with her clinical skills and caring nature. I had written a Christmas card for the clinic and specifically included some things about our vet in the note, so hopefully it will be passed on to the clinic director.

We brought Guinness home and he was promptly greeted by a hissing Bella (first time), possibly because he smelled strange and had been away. Later in the evening she also swatted him in the nose, very odd. Anyway, he is home, hasn’t been sick since Thursday, has entirely “perplexed” the vet, and seems relieved that his carrier was returned to the garage. He's currently lying across my lap, looking up at me and purring.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

an evening with the vet

On Thursday night my dear Guinness got sick. It happens occasionally and we aren’t sure of the cause. When we adopted the cats earlier this year, we were assured that they were healthy and up to date on vaccines, however, once a month or so, Guinness gets sick (TMI, vomiting and loose bowels at the same time). Thursday evening was awful. He was shaking, walked into the cabinet, and crying from deep within his chest. Of course I was crying along with him. We called the clinic, loaded the boy into the carrier, and were out the door.

(a little background)
Prior to starting IVF again, we had taken both cats to the private vet for a checkup. We mentioned our concerns to the vet and she seemed more interested in judging us for not allowing the cats to go outside into the “garden”. Sorry, I know that it is customary in many parts of the world to let cats outdoors, but our cats are indoor only. It keeps them healthier and out of danger. That day Guinness was diagnosed as being “anxious” and we were sold an expensive bottle of cat spray to calm the air.

Upon arriving at the clinic Thursday night, I was afraid that we would be faced with the same vet and was VERY relieved to see a new face. She asked a lot of relevant questions, listened as I talked about his symptoms, and gave him a thorough exam, including shaving his neck and taking blood.

We chose to take him home with us that night because being separated from Bella and in a strange environment would have been too stressful for him. The fabulous, new vet promised to call in the morning with the test results.

We started driving home and my husband’s cell phone rang. It was the vet saying that Guinness’ phosphate level was low and to please bring him back. They gave us some phosphate supplements to give him every day and tomorrow we will take him back for a sterile urine test. Other than the phosphate, all of his blood work, including viruses and infections, has come back normal. The vet is concerned about diabetes, but he’s only two and doesn’t seem to be symptomatic, so who knows.

Hopefully we will have some answers tomorrow.

Catholics and IVF

Sorry for the short notice. Tomorrow (Monday), The American Fertility Association is hosting a “webinar” on Catholics and IVF.

From The American Fertility Association website:
“Catholics and IVF: A Pastoral Approach
Are you a Roman Catholic or married to one and considering IVF or other forms of ART for your family? Does the Roman Catholic Church’s position raise concerns regarding your decision?

This webinar will help prepare Catholics who are considering IVF / ART or have a child born as a result of IVF / ART to have a productive and respectful conversation with their pastors from the perspective of their lived experiences. The guest speaker will be a pastoral representative”.

It is scheduled for 1pm, Eastern standard time. For more information, click here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I am both shocked and thrilled…

to announce that the baby has a heartbeat! It’s measuring at 6 weeks 5 days versus the actual 7 weeks, but the nurse wasn’t concerned. I’ll have another ultrasound in 10 days and we should be able to see more.

Until then….

Due to all of the other issues, one of the REs recommended that I increase the Crinone gel (progesterone) from two to three times a day. Ack. We also discussed doing additional intralipid infusions, which was to be discussed with yet another RE this afternoon.

The nurse just rang and said that the doctor thinks it’s a good idea to do more intralipids. Lucky for me they are now available at the clinic, so no need to drive to the complete opposite side of Dublin. I’m also supposed to continue to rest and relax.

In other news, the RE also wants me to switch from Crinone gel to progesterone in oil injections. I’ve not done those before because the progesterone in oil (PIO) available in Minsk was made with peanut oil. Since I have a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, I had to use Crinone. I’m less than thrilled about doing PIO IM shots every day, but honestly, I will do ANYTHING at this point to keep this pregnancy, so PIO it is. If any of you have helpful tips and tricks for PIO shots, please share.

Thank you again for all of the kind words, thoughts and prayers. We still have a long, long way to go.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

cramping, spotting, and now bleeding

All of the things I promised to do (emails, reviews, blog posts) have not been accomplished. Instead my body decided to betray me again, and yesterday I started bleeding. It slowed down overnight, but has started again today. I’m trying to do all of the things that I’m supposed to do, relax, feet up, but I’m just so sad and frustrated.

The paperwork from the clinic stated that I should take a home pregnancy test every week. It had been well over a week since I last tested, so I took it this morning. Positive. Of course it means absolutely nothing since I would obviously still have HCG in my system regardless of what is happening. I thought about calling the clinic and going in for an ultrasound, but I’m already on the schedule for Thursday and it seems pointless to make an extra trip. I wish I were here to give a happier update. For now I’m just waiting, and cramping, and spotting, and bleeding.